This Woman’s Suicide Nearly 15 Years After Her Husband Was Falsely Accused Of Kidnapping Elizabeth Smart Proves How Devastating Botched Justice Can Be

The widow of Richard Ricci, one of the original suspects in the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping case, was found dead at her residence on Dec. 18, according to Deseret News. It was later determined to be an intentional prescription drug overdose.

Following her death, Angela Morse Ricci’s son Trevor Morse created a GoFundMe page for the funeral expenses.

“The official cause of death was suicide, but I believe she died from a broken heart,” On it Trevor Morse wrote on the GoFundMe page.

Back in 2002, Salt Lake City authorities pinpointed their main person of interest in the Elizabeth Smart case as Richard Ricci, the Smart family’s handyman.

Nine days after Smart was abducted from her home, Ricci was arrested for violation of parole in the 1983 attempted murder of a police officer. He was charged with burglaries near the Smart house that were similar to the break-in that led to Smart’s disappearance.

A month after his arrest, Ricci suffered from a brain aneurysm and died three days later on Aug. 30, 2002.

Until Smart was eventually found and Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee were arrested in March 2003, Ricci remained a prime suspect after his death.

Morse described his step-father being falsely accused further on the GoFundMe page:

“He was convicted by the police and the public, and was intensely interrogated, all the while trying to tell anyone who would listen that he was innocent.”

“Since the day Richard Ricci died, my mother’s broken heart never healed,” Morse wrote on GoFundMe.

He explained the toll it took on both of them, but highlighted his mother’s unrelenting love throughout, stating that she stood by her husband and continued to make time for loved ones.

“Her house was open to anyone who needed a place to stay,” Morse wrote on the social media fundraising website.

Claiming her husband’s rights were violated, Ricci sued for wrongful death. The suits were later dismissed.

In 2004 she received a settlement of $150,000 from the Utah Department of Corrections.

Utah did not recognize any wrongdoing on its part however, the Deseret News also reported.

“Since the day Richard Ricci died, my mother’s broken heart never healed,” Morse wrote on GoFundMe.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: KOMUnews (CC by 2.0)

Scroll to top